Tao-te ching Comments

The Way of Heaven


    It is better to leave a vessel unfilled, than to attempt to carry it when it is full. If you keep feeling a point that has been sharpened, the point cannot long preserve its sharpness.

    When gold and jade fill the hall, their possessor cannot keep them safe. When wealth and honors lead to arrogancy, this brings its evil on itself. When the work is done, and one's name is becoming distinguished, to withdraw into obscurity is the way of Heaven. (Ch. 9, Legge version.)


The final sentence of this chapter offers the explanation of its meaning. It is about the Way of Heaven (we already talk about this concept in my Level 1 of the Taoism initiation course) which consists in avoiding excess. In the phenomenal world, too much filling leads to our inability to carry the vessel. The same, a point which has been sharpened too much, will end in no sharpness, and so forth…

In the human sphere, one should retreat when the work is done. In my country there's a saying which may be rendered as: "the short visit is the best". Here again the emphasis is placed on avoiding excess.

This chapter is truly one of the most Taoist.

Commentary by Jhian



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